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Nuwara Eliya City Guide

Nuwara Eliya is by far of the island’s most scenic and picturesque cities. Located within Sri Lanka’s iconic central hillside, Nuwara Eliya is a popular tourist destination for both locals and tourists from around the world – this has been a fact that has remained true for many decades. In addition to its role as the home of some of the country’s most iconic sights, Nuwara Eliya is also known for the role it played during Sri Lanka’s colonial era. The city stands tall at an altitude of 6,128 feet and is considered the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka. Almost as if to add a cherry on top of it all, this gorgeous city is overlooked by the famous Mt. Pidurutalagala, which is considered the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka.

Nuwara Eliya is famous for its temperate and cool climate, making it one of the coolest regions and cities in the whole of Sri Lanka.Due to its altitude, Nuwara Eliya’s average temperature hovers around 16 °C (61 °F) and is a region slated to have a subtropical highland climate that has no dry season per se, yet is regularly encompassed by a monsoon-like cloudy season. Winters in Nuwara Eliya can often result in a little bit of frost at night, however, the climate warms up significantly during the day due to the city’s favourable angle that gives it regular exposure to the sun – this prevents the region from slipping into long and extensive periods of very cold climate.

Nuwara Eliya directly translates to “the city of light” in Sinhala and is also commonly known as Little England for its preference among the country’s historic British colonizers. Given the region’s relatively cooler climate, the city was favoured among the British civil servants from all parts of the island as a retreat – largely since the area mimics, to a great extent, the climate in many parts Britain. It is important to note that the city was founded by a British colonizer and explorer named Samuel Baker, who is also famous for his exploration of the River Nile in Egypt. In addition to its climate, Nuwara Eliya’s fauna was also a major attraction for its foreign conquerors, given its abundance of foxes, deer, and elephants, which proved to be a major form of game for them. The city’s strong colonial presence is very evident given the presence of many buildings that have retained quintessentially colonial architectural features – buildings like the Queen’s Cottage, General’s House, Grand Hotel, Hill Club, St Andrew’s Hotel, and Town Post Office are great examples of this. Additionally, whether you are looking at old or new hotels andhouses, one thing you can expect to see in the region is that many of these locations still maintain the famous old English-style lawns and gardens.

While the majority of the Nuwara Eliya population is Sinhalese, with around 20,000 of the total 43,000 citizens, the city is also known for its diversity. Sri Lankan Tamils make up the second largest population in the city, with around 9600 citizens, while the Indian Tamil community is third largest with a population of just over 9000 citizens, followed by the Sri Lankan Moor community of just 4600 citizens. The city is also home to other communities like Malays and Burghers who amount to around 600 citizens.

There is so much to check out in Nuwara Eliya! If you plan on visiting the region, expect to be amazed by the city’s natural picturesque landscape and elegant colonial architecture, among many other incredible attributes. If you would like more information about the region, please get in touch with us or check out the other sections!

Given the nature of Sri Lanka’s vibrant, pluralistic society and traditions, it’s no surprise that you’d encounter prominent religious sites and places of worship just about anywhere you’d go, not least in Nuwara Eliya’s mountainous countryside. Home to sacred shrines belonging to a number of different faiths, the region is a perfect place for a visit if you’re keen to soak up the religious and cultural heritage of the island. Below are few of the religious must sees in the area, so make sure your trip includes a visit to a few of the following sites!

Sita Amman Kovil

If you’re keen to experience an eclectic mix of religion and rich historical heritage in one stop, the Sita Amman Kovil in Nuwara Eliya is a must visit. The temple was supposedly the place Lord Hanuman first spotted the abducted Sita, whom he was on a mission to rescue when she was abducted by the despotic Ravana. The Temple conducts frequent poojas which you can witness on occasion, and also hosts the vibrant and colourful celebration of ‘Rama Navi’ every year at the end of March.

Holy Trinity Church

A stunning relic of times past, the Trinity Church is a must see if you ever find yourself in the Hill Country for a holiday. Not merely a site of reverence and worship for Christians in the area, it possesses a historical heritage common to many places of worship in the town. The church hosts a stained glass window gifted by Queen Elizabeth II herself, and in truly colonial style was built to resemble the world renowned Canterbury Church in England. The church is located between Piduruthalangala and Kikilimana.

Shri Bhaktha Hanuman Temple

Similar to the Sita Temple above, this temple also features in the mythic tale of Lord Hanuman’s rescue of Queen Sita. According to legend, the god searched for the Queen in the thick jungles above and behind the temples. The temple was built by a Chinmaya mission in Sri Lanka and also contains a granite statue of Lord Hanuman which is said to be over 40 feet tall. The pond known as ‘Sita’s Tears’ is also located within the temple, said to have formed out of the tears that fell from the her eyes. Attracting hordes of visitors every year, the temple offers stunning views to devotees, given its location on an elevated path.

Every full moon poojas are held in the site for its multitude of worshipers, and hosts a number of other rituals and festivals as well.

Kotmale Mahaweli Maha Saya

Built as a commemoration of the 50+ temples and property lost as a result of the ambitious Mahaweli Development Project in the 1980s, the Mahaweli Maha Saya is the second largest stupa in the country. Located in Kotmale and standing at around approximately 289 ft tall, the foundation for the temple was laid in the early 1980s but its construction was only completed in 2016. The Mahaweli Project was one of the largest developmental projects conducted in Sri Lanka following the country’s independence from colonial rule.

St. Francis Xavier Church

One of the oldest churches in the country, the Francis Xavier church in Nuwara Eliya was established in the early 19th century, and possesses a rich historical and colonial heritage. Masses are conducted daily in different languages and is a serene location for many a Christian to practice their faith. Colourful murals adorn the walls of the church, and hosts a relic of its namesake, St. Francis Xavier. The nuns here produce delicious jams and pickles which are readily available for sale next door.

If you’re looking for more places of worship in the town, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll be happy to provide you with a few more religious sites to visit! Browse through the sections below for more information on picturesque Nuwara Eliya.

As we have already highlighted in previous sections, Nuwara Eliya is a beacon of beauty in the central hills of Sri Lanka. With a picturesque landscape that is complemented by a rich colonial past, there are many sights within the city that are effectively must-sees for any visitor passing through. However, if you are short of time and/or are looking for the biggest hits in the region that you must absolutely checkout, we have you covered. In this section, we run through a few of the key must-sees that fellow tourists and visitors have highly recommended – so, please read on for more!

Let’s dive in!

Lake Gregory

Perhaps one of the most iconic and recognizable sights of Nuwara Eliya, Lake Gregory is visible from almost any part of the city. The Lake is home to a wide array of activities within the city that draws in both local and international tourists. One of the most recommended activities at the Lake that you can undertake is a 30-minute swan-boat ride, if you are comfortable with being on water. You could also enjoy a blissful stroll along the Lake’s footpaths or consider taking a 15-minute pony ride within the vicinity of the Lake. One thing you need to take into consideration when heading down to Lake Gregory is that it can get very crowded during various public holidays and seasons. Therefore, if you are looking for some quiet time, consider avoiding such days.

Victoria Park

If you are looking for some peace of mind and serenity, Nuwara Eliya is the place for you. Located within the city is the Victoria Park, which is one of the country’s most attractive and well-maintained parks that is frequented by locals and tourists in need of a casual stroll. The park’s walking paths take you through some gorgeous views that consists of manicured lawns and a wide variety of flora. If you are a big fan of flowers and happen to be visiting the Park anytime during the months of March, April, May, August, and September, we must say that thevenue comes alive with the blossoming of many of most beautiful flowers out there. Victoria Park is also a birder’s paradise, given that it is home to several hill-country bird species, which includes the Kashmir Flycatcher, Indian Pitta and Grey Tit.

Pedro Tea Estate

If you happen to be a tea connoisseur or just a general fan of tea and knowing where your favourite beverage comes from, we strongly recommend a visit to the Pedro Tea Estate. The estate is not within the city limits, however, a quick tuk-tuk ride 3.5km east of Nuwara Eliyawill take you to the town of Kandapola, where the estate is located. The estate has several guides that can give you a 20-minute tour of the factory, which was originally built in 1885 and to this day still utilizes 19th century British engineering and equipment.The unique attribute about this factory is that the tea it produces is light tea, which means that the production process takes place at night during the cold weather. As an added benefit, once you have completed your tour of the Tea Estate, you can take a quick 2.5km walk to the famous Lover’s Peak waterfall and witness one of the region’s and country’s most beautiful sites.

 

While we have covered just three of the city’s most famous sights, Nuwara Eliya has far more to offer. Be sure to reach out to us if you would like more information about the region and its sights – we can guarantee that our team will be a reliable source of some valuable information! In the meantime, consider checking out the other sections in this page.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, there are a number of splendid reasons to holiday in the mist shrouded mountains of Nuwara Eliya. Whether it’s the breathtaking treks at dawn, a quick paddle around Lake Gregory or the range of other tourist attractions in the city, all of these are guaranteed to leave you seriously famished. Fortunately, the town is home to a number of well run eateries which serve an array of cuisine both local and continental. So without further ado, here are some of the restaurants you must check out if you ever find yourself down in this region of the Hill Country.

Barnes Hall

One of the more high end and well reviewed buffet restaurants in Nuwara Eliya, Barnes Hall is a charming and elegant eatery, providing an array of delectable dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Featuring multiple live cooking stations as well as an interactive kitchen show, the restaurant is ideal if you’re in the mood for something fancy and for a pleasant and relaxing ambience. The buffet is well priced for the range of food up for grabs, perfect to fill your stomach ahead or after a satisfying day of sightseeing.

Grand Thai

Located in the basement of the famous Grand Hotel within the lush confines of the city, Grand Thai is a perfect spot for a pleasant meal with family and friends. With tasteful decor and a lively ambience, the restaurant does not disappoint with its variety of traditional Thai dishes, albeit with a delightful Sri Lankan twist. The menu also features delicious vegetarian meals and lip smacking dessert options, making it the perfect place for outings with a large group of people.

Adma Agro

Adma Agro in Nuwara Eliya is your one stop shop for the love of all things strawberry. While its menu isn’t too extensive, the dishes served feature generous portions and contain fresh, locally produced strawberries. Perfect for a quiet afternoon tea with loved ones, enjoy deliciously warm pancakes with strawberries and dollops of creamy ice cream among other menu items, while taking in the breathtaking scenery of the meandering mountainside. After all, one does not simply walk into Nuwara Eliya without a taste of its exquisite strawberries.

Hill Club Restaurant

Nuwara Eliya is frequently referred to as “Little England” not least due to its colonial roots and cool, brisk climate. The Hill Club Hotel undoubtedly pays homage to this heritage, running an oaky and elegant establishment keeping in line with colonial traditions and decorum. Requiring adherence to a strict dress code from its guests, the hotel restaurant and dining room caters to a classy clientele, with its succulent and well executed dishes. If you’re not attired accordingly however, you can either venture into their Casual Dining Room known as the Lily Restaurant, or borrow a jacket and tie for no extra cost and proceed to the fine dining room, where you can choose to order from either an à la carte menu or set menu.

Grand Indian

if you ever find yourself in Nuwara Eliya and craving Indian cuisine, the Grand Indian, also located within the confines of the Grand Hotel, has got to be your first stop. The restaurant boasts of a range of authentic North Indian dishes for fairly moderate prices, given that the charge per dish is all-inclusive. Containing traditional menu items including a saffron yellow biriyani, lightly buttered naan and crisp samosas, prepare your taste buds for a sensory overload from the rich flavour and spice in these dishes. You can be sure you won’t be leaving its premises without feeling thoroughly satiated and a healthy appreciation for all things Indian.

Looking for more places to dine in? Get in touch with us and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction. Check out the sections below for more information on Nuwara Eliya.

Located in the mountainous Central Province, Nuwara Eliya is a popular holiday destination for both international tourists and local urban dwellers. Located approximately five hours from Colombo, the commercial capital of the country, the area is renowned not just for its breathtaking scenery, but its cool and pleasant climate; the closest our tropical country will ever get to a winter wonderland. So whether you’re a local or a tourist visiting for some sightseeing, sometimes all one needs to chase the cold away is a glass of wine, or perhaps something a little stronger.

Given below are a few of the city’s best bars, ideal for a night out in the idyllic misty mountains, tucked away in the heart of Sri Lanka.

Lakeview Bar

Lakview Bar offers its patrons an authentic lodger experience with its oaky wooden floors and makeshift wooden barrels lining its well stocked bar. Located at a central point within the town in the Alpine Hotel, the bar is a warm respite from the chilly winds that sweep through the hills and hosts a pool lounge on its spacious second floor. Staying true to its name, the pub does offer a scenic view of the famed Lake Gregory and a variety of affordable pub fare and drinks for all those who grace its welcoming doorstep.

Road Hole Bar

Located within the luxurious Jetwing St. Andrew’s Hotel in Nuwara Eliya, Road Hole Bar is a treasure trove among the bars in the city and is perfect for an indulgent night out. Featuring a range of premium wine, beers and spirits, a drink here is always a classy affair and is ideal if you’re willing to spend a “little bit” of money on a boozy nighttime escapade in this sleepy city. Bonus? the hotel itself is a stunning imitation of a Tudor country house, a visit here guaranteeing a trip back in time. With the aid of your favourite poison, of course.

The Pub

If you’re after a low-key affair, keen to have a quick drink and head off, The Pub is the perfect place for you. Drinks and food here are as novel as the name of this oft packed watering hole, and won’t do too much damage to your wallet if you want to do a rapid round of drinks and a spot of dinner with friends. While it may not be the classiest of places to hit up, The Pub lives up to its name and provides a clean and friendly space to do some quick catching up.

Hotel Bars

Given that nightlife in Nuwara Eliya isn’t as lively as that in urban hubs such as Colombo, there are regrettably not too many standalone pubs in the city. Fortunately, most upscale hotels and inns in the area do have their own bars, which you can hit up for a relaxed night out for dinner and drinks for moderate prices.

Hotel Oak Ray is one such hotel, the in-house bar offering its patrons the traditional range of spirits and pub fare. Windsor Hotel is also a safe option and a good pick if you’re in the mood for a quick round of drinks in the city. 19th Hole Bar, located in the colonial and centrally located Hotel Glendower, is a good bet if you’re game for a lively ambience along with your bites and beverages.

Need more information? Feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to provide you with what you need. Check out the sections below for more places to visit and things to do in misty Nuwara Eliya.